OVERVIEW: As we begin thinking about what the personal essay is both in terms of the genre and historically, it's worthwhile to think about the academic essay--a different beast entirely.
The question is this: what has the academic essay done to personal essay? And does the academic essay share anything with the personal essay?
I think that there are some obvious answers to this, but I think that it is possible that the truth of things is more complex and harder to articulate than what we might first imagine. So to start our next project in our class, we are going to reverse engineer The Crooked Ladder by Malcom Gladwell.
DETAILS: Post to this discussion your 5 paragraph essay version of Gladwell's essay. You can copy sentences directly out of Gladwell, or you can rewrite the essay wholesale. Or you can do some combination of both. Post your essay to this site by clicking on the "comments" button. There are two of them located on the page--top right and bottom left.
Folks should post by the end of what would have been our regularly scheduled class time on Monday, 2 October 2016.
After that, please read your classmates 5 paragraph essays. Comment on at least three of them. Identify what you notice about what happens to the argument, the style, the voice of the author. What happens to how persuasive the piece is? What happens to the role of information? You are welcome to comment on other aspects of what you notice, but be sure to try to make some observations about these big issues as well. You can reply to any essay by hitting, you guessed it, the "reply" button located at the bottom of each post.
In class, we'll talk about your comments as we move forward with your own academic writing. As I think about this assignment, I of course want to use our work to help refine and thicken our understanding of the history of the essay, but I also want this particular assignment to help you, as individual thinkers and writers, consider what you want your own academic, scholarly voice to sound like--because it doesn't have to sound all stiff and awful. I want you to leave this capstone experience writing bravely.